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Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy: A Film Review


TTSSTinker Tailor Soldier Spy is a tightly-plotted, subtle movie about spies and secrets in the England of 1973. Having read the book twice, I can say with complete confidence that, while there were changes in the film, they were generally small and streamlined the story. For those unaware, the film follows a retired spymaster named George Smiley, as he attempts to track down a mole in the highest levels of British intelligence. Mostly, this is accomplished by interviewing various players and piecing a coherent narrative from several distinct and fragmentary versions of the events. Book report over, what this movie does exceedingly well is take this big broad story and trim it down without appearing to remove anything at all. This movie revels in the deceptions of its characters and rewards close attention from the audience.

I was hugely impressed by the look of this film. It was directed by Tomas Alfredson of Let the Right One In fame. This film had a style that stood out from anything else I have seen this year. The way it was shot and edited felt more like an art film from the mid-’70s than a star-studded blockbuster. Which brings me to the cast. It seems that every small role was filled with the best character actor around. Mark Strong, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, Toby Jones, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ciaran Hinds, and John Freaking Hurt all play supporting roles and all of them shine.

The obvious star here is the recently Academy Award nominated Gary Oldman, as George Smiley. Gary Oldman had not been nominated for an Oscar before now. While that is an obvious oversight, his role in TTSS is my new benchmark for stillness. Smiley will sit and seemly ignore anything happening around him, but as much is revealed in the slump of his shoulders and the tight set of his mouth as in the bluster of anybody around him. I haven’t seen all the Oscar nominated performances, but I would be shocked if Oldman loses.

Ultimately, a single performance never makes a movie. What I loved about this film was the care that everybody involved brought. This is a movie featuring a large cast of extremely talented actors, with a wonderful script, great music, and beautiful direction and cinematography. I highly recommend this movie.

Ten Paranoid Glances out of Ten.


Ben Rhodes, Fanbase Press Senior Contributor


Favorite Book:  Cryptonomicon Favorite MovieYoung Frankenstein Favorite Absolutely Everything:  Monty Python


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